Where they stand Q&A: James ‘Jim’ Shelby


Why are you running for office?

I have been very fortunate in business and feel public service is a way to give back to my beloved community some of what has been given to me.

What makes you a qualified candidate for the position?

I’ve held the position for 17 years. The experience has given me a thorough understanding of the many state laws and regulations governing counties and public finance. I have over 50 years experience owing, managing and operating three successful businesses in Greenfield. My educational background is engineering (BSEE, Purdue) and business (MBA, Butler). Thus, I have an educational foundation in enterprise management and finance.

What are your top three goals for the position?

A) Continue to build the financial strength of the county and efficiently manage the county’s budget. B) Improve the county’s roads and bridges. C) Keep our citizens safe.

What are the most pressing issues facing Hancock County, and what can the county council do to help?

A) We have an addiction crisis. The council in emergency action has added two new merit Sheriff’s Deputies, dedicated to the drug problem. We need to implement a robust rehabilitation/recovery program. The efforts need to be greatly expanded. A solution requires cooperation between all elements of the criminal justice system plus the Commissioners and the Council. B) We need to raise the pay level for county employees. They’ve gained skills to operate new digital systems to increase efficiency and thereby keep employee numbers stable or declining. In a tight labor market these skilled employees can find higher paying jobs elsewhere, forcing the county to repeatedly increase training costs for new employees.

Do you support construction of a new criminal justice facility? Why or why not?

We have a jail that is overcrowded. The jail needs relief. Whatever we do, the criminal justice facility needs a new and robust recovery/mental health/rehabilitation program element. We put hundreds of thousands of dollars into incarceration (which is needed), but currently we put very little comparatively into prevention/recovery/rehabilitation. This needs to change. We cannot build enough space for incarceration only.

Identify one area where Hancock County is overspending, and identify one area where you’d like to allocate more resources.

More resources need to be allocated to county employee salaries to make their salaries competitive in the marketplace. See 4 (B) above. In the past the county has needed to add General Fund money into the Sheriff’s Retirement Fund to make up for the inadequate earnings on the invested funds. For the past 10 to 12 years the earnings were about half the targeted earnings. To make the fund viable, the taxpayers have made up the difference through General Fund transfers into the Retirement Fund. This has amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been spent elsewhere. While the council was required to make up the shortfall in the Retirement Fund, the council has no authority or jurisdiction over the management of the Sheriff’s Retirement Fund.

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Name: James ‘Jim’ Shelby

Age: 77

Party: Republican

Office sought: Hancock County Council

Occupation: Semi-retired, Shelby Farms

Political experience: County council member for 17 years

Family: Wife Glenna, three children, five grandchildren